Chipotle Mexican Grill’s new robot can make guacamole in half the time human workers need to prepare the dish, the restaurant chain said in unveiling the device on Wednesday.
The so-called Autocado is designed to handle the labor-intensive task of preparing the avocados, slicing, coring and peeling 25 pounds of the fruit at once. By comparison, it takes employees about 50 minutes to prepare a batch of guac, according to Chipotle. Human workers will continue to apply the finishing touches, such as adding other ingredients and mixing them together, the company said.
Chipotle is using the Autocado at its test kitchen in California. The company didn’t say if the machine would eventually be introduced in its roughly 3,200 locations worldwide.
“The intensive labor of cutting, coring and scooping avocados could be relieved with Autocado, but we still maintain the essential culinary experience of hand mashing and hand preparing the guacamole to our exacting standards,” Curt Garner, Chipotle’s chief customer and technology officer, said in a statement.
Autocado, created by robotics and automation firm Vebu Labs of California with collaboration from Chipotle, stacks a group of avocados vertically then removes their skin and core. The remaining flesh is dropped into a stainless steel bowl that a Chipotle worker takes and uses as the base for a batch of guacamole.
Vebu CEO Buck Jordan said in a statement that its technology can help create Chipotle’s guacamole “more efficiently than ever before.” Vebu also said it wants to improve Autocado by using artificial intelligence to teach the machine to evaluate the ripeness of avocados.
Chipotle is also testing the use of robotics for making its tortilla chips. The robotic kitchen assistant called Chippy debuted last year at a location in California.
Other restaurants are also increasingly turning to robotics and AI and robotics to cut down on routine tasks. Restaurant chain Sweetgreen opened a kitchen in the Chicago suburb of Naperville earlier this year that uses AI to make salads. The location is still staffed by humans, who put the finishing touches on the order.
CKE Restaurants, which owns Carl’s Jr. and Hardee’s, said in May that it’s using AI called Tori at the drive-thru to take orders, while McDonald’s is using similar technology at some of its drive-thrus.
Chipotle’s stock price was flat Wednesday afternoon, trading at $2,070 a share.